The Christmas Story: Mary (Take 2)

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. – Luke 1: 46-56.

Being a second installment of our study of Mary, I thought I would share some insights concerning Mary’s song. In the previous post, I mentioned that Mary was very intelligent. In fact, that might have been an understatement. Mary had limited schooling. As mentioned in the previous post, Mary probably had the education of a sixth grader. She would have learned the basics of the Torah and the Wisdom literature. What’s interesting is that Mary’s song encompasses, for the most part, word-for-word Scripture from Proverbs, Isaiah, and Psalms – wisdom literature she would have learned as a young schoolgirl. Mary gives an exegetical lesson to Elizabeth through her song. Maybe Elizabeth and Mary learned a song much like Mary’s song when they were in school together. We have no support of the Scriptures to say that Mary free versed these words. We also don’t want to assume she didn’t either. What we can be sure of though is that Mary connected several Scriptures together and sang a song that expressed her joy.

Mary first takes a moment to express the joy she has. She calls herself “his servant.” This is a direct statement that looks back at her response to the angel. She says, “I am the Lord’s servant…” She knows she really isn’t worthy of being the mother of God in the flesh. Instead of becoming proud, she acknowledges before Elizabeth and God that she is humble. For a young virgin girl, she shows herself more as an adult than most adults would have responded. Even when people call her blessed, she recognizes she turns the focus squarely on God. Even when people, who might have the right intentions, worship her, she recognizes that she is in need of Jesus’ saving grace – He will be her salvation. Would it be wrong for us to call Mary blessed? No. She was. In fact, she believes she is as well. She is only blessed though because God chose her, not because she was perfect.

I think the next several verses are a response to the angel’s words, “For nothing is impossible with God.” Her knowledge of the Scriptures would have guided her to respond in the following verses the way she does here. God has “performed mighty deeds with his arm.” She has seen God work in amazing ways through the Torah and within her own lineage – within her people. It would have been ingrained in her mind. Throughout Israel’s history, God has never forgotten His people. She has always remained under God’s protection. He has feed those who were in need and has “sent the rich away empty.” Perhaps the rich were sent away empty because they did not bless others as God commanded the people. It is only a guess as to why she adds that to her song. Knowing Mary’s status during that time – to some degree – it also could have been a cry for God to protect her in her time of need. She is the “hungry” in her song. Perhaps the “rich” are those who will eventually look down on her. Once again, these are only suggestions as to how all of this fits Mary’s song. We learn Mary is not troubled when she is in her cousin’s household. The “impossible” is not impossible.

In the final verse, we learn Mary stays with Elizabeth for about three months – most likely until John is born. Maybe she was there to hear Zachariah speak for the first time in nine months. Armed perhaps with two miracles and a message from an angel, Mary returns to her home, perhaps showing a little, as Jesus grows within her. When she returns home, Joseph, having had his dream, takes Mary to be his wife, despite what others might think of her. He knows she remains a pure woman, having been with no man.


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